Monday, 28 December 2009

Doctor Who: David Tennant is better than sex and so is Matt Smith

On New Year's Day David Tennant's Tenth Doctor will pop his clogs in Part Two of 'The End Of Time'.  Like 99% of rational human beings I bloody loved Tennant's Doctor.  Whereas Christopher Eccleston burned through the Ninth Doctor with one season's worth of pure gold acting power, Tennant, in my opinion, took a bit of time to settle into the role, like a man easing himself into a hot bath of pure gold acting power.  There were times in Season Two where his performance may have come across as a bit smug, his voice a bit Timmy Mallet-esque, but he just got better and better and better.  By the time Seasons Three and Four came along Tennant was a natural fit for the role and now he can sit in a cafe with Bernard Cribbins and blub for five minutes and I'm utterly convinced that he's a lonely alien god and I'm utterly gripped.  Tennant's not just a good actor though, he's choc full of charisma, probably more so than Eccleston.  Tennant's Doctor is fun to watch, you want the Tenth Doctor to be your mate, even when he's committing the odd bit of genocide.  The only thing that's stopping me from declaring Tennant my favourite Doctor is that I love all ten of them for different reasons and I honestly couldn't find it in my heart to pick a favourite.  I'm very boring, I know.  Like those people who say that they haven't got any favourite bands, they "like a bit of everything."

As for Matt Smith, I'm confident that he's going to be fantastic.  I like all ten of them so far, I find it very hard to imagine that number eleven will be the odd one out.  Many have written off Smith already despite the fact that not one scene of his portrayal of the Doctor has been seen by the general public yet. One common criticism is that, at the age of 27, he's too young, but all real Who fans can tell you that Peter Davison was only 29 when he took the role.

Another criticism is that they've played it safe by going for a Tennant clone.  This criticism baffles me.  For a start we have no idea how Smith will play his Doctor yet.  For all we know it could be as different from Tennant's portrayal as Troughton's was from Hartnell's, or Pertwee's was from Troughton's, or Baker's was see where I'm going with this.  Also, beyond their hair colour and the fact that their both caucasian males there is absolutely no resemblance between them!  Tennant is 38, Smith is 27. That's eleven years difference!  Tennant has a thin face with big wonderful, bulging eyes.  Smith has a head like a shoe box in a pair of tights.  And I mean that in a nice way, he's better looking than me.

Lastly of course there's the hair.  According to some critics, the fact that Smith has a vaguely fashionable haircut bars him from ever being able to portray the Doctor effectively.  They argue that Smith was chosen purely for his ability to appeal to a younger demographic.  There are three things wrong with this argument.
 1) Despite what some may think, the "younger demographic" aren't so stupid that they'll watch anything starring a random bloke with an emo haircut.
2) Despite what some may think, the BBC aren't so stupid that they'll hand over a lead role in one of their top programmes to some guy based solely on his 'do.
3) Dismissing Smith based only on his hair would be like watching an interview with Troughton in '66 and accusing the producers of cashing in on the Beatles.
When the first episode has aired let's hear those criticisms but at the moment I can say with all confidence that anyone who complains about Matt Smith being Doctor Who is a twat.

Until Smith enters the TARDIS however, there's still the painful matter of saying goodbye to Tennant.  If Part One of the 'End of Time' is anything to go by then he should be going out in a suitably spectacular fashion.  And I should think so too!  Tennant deserves a great send off.  He's brilliant.  And let's not forget that so far the Doctor has been killed in a number of pretty interesting ways.  His aging body has collapsed to the floor after battling the Cybermen, he's been forced to regenerate by the Time Lords, he's got radiation poisoning after fighting a giant spider, he's plunged to his doom from a giant radio telescope, he's died slowly of 'spectrox toxemia' after running through boiling mud and milking a giant bat, he's (ahem) fallen over and banged his head in the TARDIS, he's been riddled with bullets and died screaming on the operating table, he's (presumably) fallen during battle in the Time War and he's been consumed by the energies of the Time Vortex.

How do you top that?

Friday, 25 December 2009

Ten Reasons Why Peter David's Aquaman is the Mutt's Nuts!

My Christmas gift to all of you out there in internet land is this post, urging you to seek out and find every single issue of Peter David's run on 'Aquaman'.  Seriously, if you like superhero comics you owe it to yourself to read Peter David's run on 'Aquaman'.  If you read it your life will be enriched, and I will have spread joy and goodwill this Christmas.  In no particular order, here are ten reasons why Peter David's 'Aquaman' is the mutt's nuts.

1) The Atlantis Chronicles 

Before David started his run on the title he wrote  'The Atlantis Chronicles', a seven issue series that told the story of Aquaman's home from it's sinking right up to Aquaman's birth.  The artwork by Esteban Maroto is absolutely gorgeous and David's story is breathtaking.  The story was so grand and epic I felt like I was reading an ancient myth and yet I totally identified with the characters and genuinely cared about their fate.  It is easily one of the best comics I've ever read and yet it's never been collected in trade paperback and will probably be erased from continuity with the next Aquaman reboot.  If you ever see the series in a bargain bin or on ebay I urge you to BUY IT!

2) Martin Egelund and Jim Calafiore

The bulk of David's run was drawn by these two guys and they're two of my favourite pencillers.  Calafiore's work has popped up in titles such as 'Deadpool', 'Exiles' and 'Gotham Underground' but I haven't seen Egelund's work on anything other than 'Aquaman'.  If you know of any other examples of his work please let me know.

3) Soap Opera

So many soap opera-esque plots!  Aquaman's estranged wife Mera catching Aquaman in bed with Forgotten Hero Dolphin!  Aquaman's efforts to bond with his angry long lost son Koryak!  Aquaman battling his half brother, Ocean Master! Aquaman's old friend Vulko plotting to overthrow him behind his back!  David's twists and turns made 'Aquaman' an underwater 'Eastenders'.  That's a good thing.

4) Tempest

By the early '90s Aqualad and his white man's afro was a bit of a joke.  David's solution to this was simple.  He turned Aqualad into Tempest, a double-hard bastard of an underwater sorceror who was potentially more powerful than Aquaman himself!

5) "Impressed Yet?"

One clever trick of David's during his run was to have certain characters voice some common fan criticisms of Aquaman.  Aquaman would then answer these criticisms by kicking his critic's ass.   This tactic was evident in issue three of the run, when Superboy stated that he was "mucking with some guy who talks to fish and sucks water" and that he was "not impressed."  Aquaman responds by hitting Superboy with a tsunami while shouting "Hey punk! Impressed yet?"

6) Aquaman repels an alien invasion and doesn't bother to tell the Justice League

Secret Invasion?  It's no biggie for Aquaman.  The first 25 issues of David's run involved Aquaman reclaiming the throne of Atlantis and repelling an alien invasion with only a handful of his watery buddies.  He didn't need Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman.  When you're as hard as Aquaman all you need is the Sea Devils, Neptune Perkins and your own awesomeness.

7) Aquaman invades Japan 

Your dolphin mother has just been brutally murdered by a cyborg who is now hiding in Japan.  The Japanese government has threatened you with retaliation if you go looking for revenge.  What do you do? Well, if you're Aquaman you jump inside the giant, ancient, sentient spaceship located underneath your city and invade Japan.  You then ban Japan from the ocean, using your aquatic minions to sink all their boats!  You'll probably find that the Japanese government give you what you want by the end of the issue. 

8) Aquaman escapes from Hell

It's strange that Aquaman's currently having a hard time being dead in the pages of 'Blackest Night' considering the first time he died he wasn't all that bothered.  Apparently David had planned a big storyline where Aquaman would get killed by the god Triton.  He would be gone for a bunch of issues and then return as a water elemental.  Sadly David's superiors pissed him off one too many times and he took his ball home and buggered off to Marvel.  As a result Aquaman was dead for only one issue, during which time he fights his way out of the Kingdom of Hades by punching the Ferryman into the River Styx and chopping off one of Cerebrus' heads!  Not quite the epic storyline David had planned but it was still pretty cool.

9) The Clear

All the groundwork for David's failed plan to have Aquaman fulfil his true potential as an elemental being can be seen throughout the series.  For example, in issue 36 Aquaman discovers that he can connect to "the Clear".  Just as Swamp Thing is connected to all of Earth's plant life and Animal Man to all of it's animals, Aquaman could connect to all of Earth's sea life regardless of where he was by reaching out with his mind through "the Clear".  Of course this interesting idea was ignored by every single subsequent writer.

10) It's not a hook, it's a harpoon

Before David could show off all these interesting ideas he had to get people to read the damn comic.  He did this by having pirhanas chew off Aquaman's hand in the second issue.  This has been criticised as an example of the type of cheap publicity stunt that was typical of '90s comics.  One of the critics of this plot twist was Kevin Smith who described the maiming of Aquaman as "sensationalistic crap"!  But say what you will about the hand loss, it got people talking about Aquaman and it got people to notice the good work that David was doing.  And bloody good work it was too!

So there we have it! Ten good reasons for you to put down that turkey leg and go to ebay or your nearest comic shop to find -
  • The Atlantis Chronicles #1-7
  • Aquaman: Time and Tide #1-4
  • Aquaman #0-46
  • Aquaman Annual #1-4

Oh, and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Plugging Another Blog

Laughing at out of context comic panels from a bygone age is ace.  It's something I've done on occasion, particularly here and here.  But the absolute king of such activity is a man called Adam Barnett and his blog 'Comics Make No Sense' is great fun.  Check it out here.

He has also been good enough to post some wacky comic panels submitted by me.  Go and visit him and spread the love.  And in true 'Comics Make No Sense'  fashion, here's some more Motivational Posters.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Celebrity Look-A-Likes: Mon-El and Wayne Rooney

I couldn't help but notice while checking over my previous post that artist J.G. Jones seems to have drawn Mon-El on the cover of 'War of the Supermen' with the face and ears of Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney! Sucks to be Mon-El. First he contracts lead poisoning and is exiled to Phantom Zone, then he gets released only to find his powers are on the blink and he's slowly dying, now he gets stuck with Rooney's mug!

I just made a football reference amid all this talk of comics! Today I am a real man.

War of The Supermen and Earth One.

Very exciting Superman news from DC Comics this week. Firstly, next year's DC crossover seems to be a Superman one, with the tension between Earth and New Krypton finally boiling over into 'War of the Supermen'.

This war has been brewing for quite a while now, so it comes as no surprise. It does however conjure up unwelcome memories of the Wonder Woman event of a few years ago, 'Amazons Attack!' In this mini-series Wonder Woman's people, the Amazons, waged war with the United States, much in the same way as Superman's people, the Kryptonians, seem set to wage war with Earth. I do try to keep this blog as positive as I can, the last thing the internet needs is another whiny fanboy, so I'm not going to list all the reasons why I'm not a fan of 'Amazon's Attack!' I'll just say that I hope that the two events aren't too similar and that the Kryptonians' reasons for going to war aren't as ropey as the Amazons' were. If the plot currently unfolding in the Super-titles is anything to go by it should be all good.

Speaking of the current plot of the Super-titles, I realise that the decision to move Superman out of his own books has been a controversial one but I have to say I've been enjoying them. Greg Rucka's 'Action Comics' starring Nightwing and Flamebird has probably been the weakest of the lot. The story has been pretty good but I just can't bring myself to care that much about Nightwing and Flamebird. Over in the pages of 'Superman' on the other hand James Robinson has done a great job of making me give a crap about Superman's Daxamite pal, Mon-El. Also, Sterling Gates, along with artist Jamal Igle, has done some great work on 'Supergirl'. They've made it hard to believe that we're reading about the same sulky, tantrum throwing, impossibly proportioned Barbie doll of a character that occupied the title for the first thirty odd issues before they came aboard. If you're only checking out one of the Super-titles at the moment though I hope it's 'World of New Krypton'. Robinson and Rucka have done an admirable job of showing that even on a planet full of people with the same powers as him, Kal-El is still Superman. Having said all that, while the plot running through the Super-books is quite gripping it all seems to be unfolding painfully slowly. After almost a year I'm ready for Superman to get back on Earth and back to his own books. Fingers crossed that 'War of the Supermen' will be a payoff that makes it all worth while.

In other Super-news, next year DC are launching 'Superman: Earth One' and 'Batman: Earth One'. These will be a series of graphic novels set within their own continuity. We've seen it before with Marvel's Ultimate line, and indeed with DC's All-Star line, but that's not the exciting part. The exciting part is that Geoff Johns and Gary Frank will be tackling Batman and J. Michael Straczynski will be writing Superman! If 'Superman: Earth One' is anywhere near as good as Straczynski's work on Spider-Man and Thor then this will be amazing. My only gripe is that I would have liked to have seen J.M.S on 'Action Comics' or the main 'Superman' book. As for Johns and Frank on Batman? I cannot bloody wait! Check out their Alfred!

Now if only DC could think of something good to do with Aquaman.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Ronnie Chan

Judging from the above picture it would seem that Jackie Chan's next project is a remake of Ronnie Corbett's magnum opus, Sorry.

Let's hope Hollywood keep the original theme tune. It is after all the late Ronnie Hazlehurst's finest piece.